Monday, May 22, 2006

The Cindy Spot presents: The SAOR Guide To The New US Shows

So the US TV season's almost come to an end, with a lot of goodbyes (and at least one "I thought you'd gone" in the case of 7th Heaven); this week gone by saw the networks announce their fall/autumn lineup, and this week coming sees the LA Screenings - the annual TV equivalent of Harrods' sale, with buyers the world over having a look at what's on offer for their schedules in between their own homegrown stuff. As usual, some will be sold easier than others (Prison Break had no trouble getting a home in the UK, whereas it can't be coincidence that the Disney-produced Commander In Chief wound up on ABC1 over here); what follows is one TV watcher's guesses of which ones of the new scripted shows'll wind up here (with midseason shows asterisked), and their SAOR factor (as bandied about on the Guardian talkboards, SAOR is short for Shallow And Obvious Reasons, so that should be pretty self-explanatory).

NBC first:
20 Good Years: This pairing of John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor is the kind of thing I can imagine BBC2 or Paramount Comedy Channel getting, but the next Friends it ain't.

SAOR Factor: Heather Burns. Leaning towards "Meh."
30 Rock: Comedy set behind the scenes of a Saturday Night Live-type show... more Paramount fodder, especially since SNL hardly has Bilko-type status over here.
SAOR Factor: Well, Tina Fey is cute. Boys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses, eh?
Andy Barker, P.I.*: Yet more Paramount Comedy Channel fodder (especially if it gets cancelled early a la Andy Richter Controls The Universe), or something for C4 to use as 4 am filler, whether deserved (Mortal Kombat: Conquest, Pearl) or not (Second Time Around, The Norm Show).
SAOR Factor: Amy Farrington's okay, but Ion Overman used to be on The L Word. You have to be hot to be on that show (Leisha Hailey notwithstanding).
The Black Donnellys*: Crash and Million Dollar Baby may give Paul Haggis' new show the boost that EZ Streets and Family Law never got... but then again, maybe not. Isn't it about time people remembered that he did dueSouth as well? Maybe Five.
SAOR Factor: Olivia Wilde has her fans, but as far as babes from The O.C. go I even prefer Autumn Reeser.
Friday Night Lights: There is no way any UK broadcaster will buy in a series about American football, unless it's in with a job lot of shows from NBC Universal. Let's move on.
Heroes: Fantasy-drama about people with superpowers? You can just see this on Sky One, Five, or one of ITV's channels (after Medium and Triangle, I wouldn't even rule out BBC1). The one I'm hoping for the most, even if it does have someone who used to be in My Wife And Kids.
SAOR Factor: Hayden Panettiere. As a cheerleader. And Ali Larter. As a stripper. Enough said.
Kidnapped: You just know one channel is going to want some of that 24/Prison Break/Lost serial-type action. Plus it's from folks with Boomtown and Angel on their CV, which may help. And never overlook British interest in the casting, which brings us to...
SAOR Factor: Carmen Ejogo, former ITV Saturday morning kids show hostess, is still nice. And there's also Dana Delany. :)
Raines*: Another quirky detective show, with our hero talking to dead people... even with Jeff Goldblum, I'm not entirely sure about this one.
SAOR Factor: I'm unfamiliar with Alexa Davalos, but she's okay. And there's the lesser of the two Parks (Linda, as opposed to Grace), but she still trumps Jolene Blalock. (Yes, Jen, she does.)
The Singles Table*: Young people becoming friends at a wedding? Oh, this has Trouble written all over it.
SAOR Factor: Not really that fussed over anyone in it.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: The other new NBC show about a Saturday Night Live-type show has a better chance of being picked up by British TV, thanks to Aaron Sorkin's cult following (The West Wing always had a devoted club, although not shown in its ratings) and the presence of Matthew Perry. But Channel 4's more likely to put it on one of their digital channels than they may have been a few years back. Then again, they will need something to replace Invasion...

SAOR Factor: Amanda Peet and Sarah Paulson, together again. As a bonus, the third member of the Jack & Jill Y-Chromosomeless Collective (Jaime Pressly) is busy with My Name Is Earl.

Meanwhile, over at the Disney Channel (er, ABC):
Betty the Ugly: Man, I hate that title. This premise (non-fashion-plate woman in the world of fashion) is very, very LivingTV friendly, and if all else fails there's always ABC1 (home of Less Than Perfect).
SAOR Factor: Goes against the premise of the show. Would also be a lot higher if executive producer Salma Hayek was a regular... but it's not like Vanessa Williams has been hit by the ugly stick.
Big Day: 24 meets Father of the Bride, it says here. Trouble, maybe? BBC3?
SAOR Factor: Marla Sokoloff is the bride. Which is okay with me.
Brothers & Sisters: Calista Flockhart, Rachel Griffiths, Patricia Wettig... chances of this drama coming here - high. Chances of it being well acted (it also has Ron Rifkin and Balthazar Getty from Alias) - high.
SAOR Factor: Low, except for the former Brenda off Six Feet Under and Sarah Jane Morris.
Day Break*: This show about a cop who gets to relive his day again and again while trying to find who framed him for murder will either be very very good, or very very bad. Either way, bet on this arriving here - ITV4 might be about right.
SAOR Factor: Who are Meta Golding and Moon Bloodgood, and why have I not seen them before? Nice...r than Victoria Pratt, who's also in this.
Help Me Help You: Ted Danson has never been in a show that didn't turn up here (not even Ink)...
SAOR Factor: Fairly meh. One to watch for proper reasons. :)
In Case of Emergency*: Yet another series about a group of friends, this bunch getting together after graduation. Sounds like one for Trouble or ABC1, or C4's late schedule - but it does have Greg "Ally McBeal's boss" Germann.
SAOR Factor: Kelly Hu! And Lori Loughlin. But especially Kelly Hu!
Let's Rob ...: A heist comedy. With Mick Jagger in the pilot. No doubt Five'll swoop, but C4'll be in there as well. I hope it's as diverting as it sounds.
SAOR Factor: The token female member of the group is Sofia Vergara, thus making up for some of ABC's other shows in this department.
Men in Trees: "After her wedding plans fall apart, a female relationship coach stays in Alaska and looks for love in chilly places." Hallmark or Living, I bet.
SAOR Factor: Anything starring Anne Heche is very lacking in that department.
The Nine: Intriguing premise (about hostages and the aftereffects of their trauma) - this could go to almost anyone, from BBC2 to FX.
SAOR Factor: Nice to see Camille Guaty and Lourdes Benedicto (Prison Break and 24 respectively), not so nice to see Kim Raver.
Notes from the Underbelly: I don't know... this expecting-couple comedy might put off UK buyers just from the title.
SAOR Factor: The thespiennes (Jennifer Westfeldt, Melanie Paxson and Rachael Harri) are cute but not that cute.
Six Degrees: A return to less fantasy-based drama from J.J. Abrams, about people whose lives interact without their actually meeting. ABC1 or 4, maybe?
SAOR Factor: In the world according to J.J. Abrams, there's always a decent one - step forward Bridget Moynahan and Erika Christensen.
Traveler*: The Fugitive for the 9/11 generation, with our heroes on the run after being framed for a terrorist attack. At least, I hope it is - it could just as easily turn out to be one of the many less successful variations on Richard Kimble's plight... Bravo could get it, mentioned because I haven't suggested them yet.
SAOR Factor: This sadly seems to be the Supernatural of the new season in that sense, i.e. leaning towards those who like men.

Over on CBS (Constant Bruckheimer Shows):
3 LBS*: Medical show with Stanley Tucci. Mm. Even if it is from the folks behind Homicide: Life on the Street and Oz.
SAOR Factor: Having Googled Tamara Taylor and Indira Varma, I'll reserve judgement on the latter.
The Class: Schoolmates coming back together... could be brilliant, but I don't know. Shows with Brits in main roles - in this case Sean Maguire (Eve, Off Centre) - almost always get UK homes (Still Standing is one of the few exceptions, perhaps because Mark Addy played an American), ditto almost everything from Warner Bros.
SAOR Factor: Not overly thrilled here. Poppy Montgomery and Jennifer Finnigan (from Without A Trace and Close To Home respectively) have nothing to worry about from this corner.
Jericho: Town isolated in the wake of holocaust. Might be interesting, and sounds up Sci-Fi's alley... but it isn't reassuring that the producer directed While You Were Sleeping and National Treasure.
SAOR Factor: Ashley Scott's in it. So very, very much meh (as well as quite possibly dooming this show given her track record).
Rules of Engagement*: Relationship comedy (ugh) executive produced by Adam Sandler and starring Patrick Warburton (Seinfeld, Kim Possible, The Emperor's New Groove...), which is more reassuring. Maybe another one for Trouble.
SAOR Factor: If you were hot for Megyn Price when she was on Grounded For Life...
Shark: James Woods as a lawyer in a show whose pilot is directed by Spike Lee. This'll definitely come to Britain, but how long'll it last? Shows about prosecuting lawyers don't seem to take off as well as those from the other side (remember Equal Justice?).
SAOR Factor: Jeri Ryan will be enough for some, but don't count out Danielle Panabaker. Although as far as cast members from Sky High are concerned, give me Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Smith: From the comical side of thieves (Let's Rob...) to the serious side, as you can tell from the presence of Ray Liotta. Sounds like the kind of show that'll get a small but devoted audience and people whining when/if it gets axed early. Another Warner show, so likely to come over either on its own or in a job lot. Also has UK interest with Jonny Lee Miller.
SAOR Factor: Virginia Madsen was gotten rid of early on when she was on American Dreams, so hopefully she and Amy Smart'll be around longer here.
Waterfront*: "The Mayor! Starring Homer Si... Joe Pantoliano," on what was previously Melina Kanakeredes' turf of Providence. He no doubt hopes for a stay more akin to hers than to his previous shows The Handler and dr. vegas. Likely to be another job lot job.
SAOR Factor: Mary Stuart Masterson? Natalia Cigliuti? Both nice, but my vote goes to Lyndsy Fonseca, who will hopefully get to do more here than on How I Met Your Mother.

Over at Fox, your voice for evil:
Happy Hour: Uptight guy and looser best friend. Mm.
SAOR Factor: Jamie Denbo, Beth Lacke and Brooke D'Orsay are cute, but are they cute enough to make it bearable for sad single men?
Justice: In which Jerry Bruckheimer does for lawyers what he did for forensic investigators. Apparently. Hopefully it'll take more of a Without A Trace/Close To Home approach when it comes here (yes, when - Bruckheimer is irresistible to UK buyers, plus it's another one with a Brit, i.e. Eamonn Walker).
SAOR Factor: Not apparent.
Standoff: Hostage negotiators. In a relationship... hmm. FX, maybe? Or another channel that loves cop shows, like Hallmark?
SAOR Factor: Gina Torres. That'll be enough for some.
'Til Death: Brad Garrett's sitcom is unlikely to come over here, since Everybody Loves Raymond didn't travel over here as well as Friends did. Paramount, at best.
SAOR Factor: Joely Fisher's funny and dishy. Qualifies.
Vanished: See Kidnapped.
SAOR Factor: Rebecca Gayheart and Ming-Na. Nice...
The Wedding Album*: Guy (Bruno "The Carver from Nip/Tuck" Campos) who attends weddings as a photographer but not as a groom. Something for ITV to put in the weekday afternoons?
SAOR Factor: This is too aimed at women of the straight variety (Eva Pigford? No).

The Winner*: Live-action sitcom from Seth MacFarlane, so it's likely to have some amusing moments. And riffs from The Simpsons, probably...? Given how incoherently run Family Guy and American Dad! were over here, I won't hold my breath.
SAOR Factor: Well, Erinn Hayes doesn't look bad...

And finally, the CW:
The Game: A spinoff of Girlfriends, which has been on over here (on Living and Trouble) for a while. And if Trouble can show both One On One and its spinoff, I don't see why they can't air this, especially with one half of the twins from Sister, Sister.
SAOR Factor: Tia Mowry's grown up...
Hidden Palms*: Kevin Williamson returns to hopefully give Josh Schwartz and the rest of the gang at The O.C. something to worry about - mystery + teen drama = promising sounding. But can he do this as well as Veronica Mars, though? Either way, Five might be interested.
SAOR Factor: Amber Heard, Sharon Lawrence and Gail O'Grady. The first is no Sophia Bush, the second shares a first name with my sister, and the third... well. But you never know.
Runaway: It's The Fugitive with a family! Donnie Wahlberg was excellent on Boomtown, ditto Leslie Hope on 24 and (from all accounts) Line of Fire; but the presence of Darren "I haven't been involved with a good show since Beverly Hills 90210" Star as one of the executive producers is worrying. Nevertheless, expect this to get a UK buyer.
SAOR Factor: Having wasted Jennifer Connelly on The $treet and Alicia Silverstone and Lake Bell on Miss Match, he now gives us Sarah Ramos from American Dreams. She's too young. Cheers. :(

So basically I'm saying most of them are likely to show up here; five terrestrial channels and a fair amount of cable ones and they all need material. Wonder which ones'll celebrate a second birthday? And which ones'll manage a complete run in the UK? Stay tuned.

In memory, especially if shown or due to be shown over here, of: Alias, The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, Arrested Development, The Bedford Diaries, The Bernie Mac Show, Blue Collar TV, The Book Of Daniel, Charmed, Commander In Chief, Conviction, Courting Alex, Crumbs, Cuts, E-Ring, Emily's Reasons Why Not, Eve, Everwood, The Evidence, Fear Factor, Four Kings, Freddie, Free Ride, Get This Party Started, Head Cases, Heist, Hope & Faith, Hot Properties, In Justice, Inconceivable, Invasion, Jake in Progress, Joey, Just Legal, Killer Instinct, Kitchen Confidential, Less Than Perfect, Living With Fran, Love Monkey, Malcolm In The Middle, Miracle Workers, Monday Night Football, Modern Men, Night Stalker, One On One, Out Of Practice, Pepper Dennis, Related, Reunion, Rodney, Sex, Love & Secrets, Sons & Daughters, South Beach, Stacked, Still Standing, Surface, Survival Of The Richest, Teachers, That '70s Show, Three Wishes, Threshold, Twins, The West Wing, What I Like About You, Will & Grace and Yes, Dear.


The Archivist said...

Why are some shows asterisked?

Cindylover1969 said...

Read the first paragraph.

The Archivist said...

I read the first paragraph initially... I must have totally missed it.